Posted on 7/30/11 05:25 PM
To be quite frank, this is one of the most beautiful films of all time. I have never seen anything quite like it, I saw it a few days ago and for the entire drive home, I was completely speechless. Never before has a film effected me in this way through both its awe-inspiring visuals and its deep spiritual and emotional power, The Tree of Life transcends mere narrative to become a living, breathing work of art. It certainly isn't a film that will please all, but those moviegoers who are patient and contemplative enough will be rewarded greatly. This film has easily surpassed any I have seen this year and has already become one of my all-time favorites, it's truly an experience I won't soon forget.
The film's story is seen through the eyes of Jack O'Brien, a disillusioned middle-aged man struggling to deal with the his conflicting feelings and his relationships of both his mother and his father as well as the burden of his younger brother's death. The film flashes back to the beginning of the family and we see it grow from Jack's birth through the boy's loss of innocence as a teenager. The families journey is also coupled with an equally beautiful journey of the earth as it is created with the rest of the universe and how life soon flourishes across the once barren landscape, it's truly remarkable. Both stories are equally beautiful and heartbreaking in both their respective senses. The journey of the family is an incredibly moving sequence, mostly because I can relate to the entire thing. The film is a very personal experience where Terrence Malick really plays with my emotions. The magic, the innocence of suburban childhood, the bond of brothers, the strict disciplinarian father, the loving and open mother, it was all too familiar. Some may have thought that the nature sequences and the infamous dinosaurs may seem unnecessary but I think they add a parallel to the family story where just as the lives of the people progress, the earth itself to progresses and grows. The power of the final scenes is extraoridinary, driving me to the brink of tears, anyone who has experienced the loss of a dear loved one can't help but feel something.
Brad Pitt is no doubt one of my favorite actors. He is usually seen as only some kind of pretty boy, but he has served Oscar worthy after Oscar worthy performances and The Tree of Life is no exception. He is fiery, maybe harsh but all to realistic of the religious and old-fashioned father very commonplace at the time of the film. He gives the most of a performance in the film, it is very quiet and profound with most of the characters talking to God in their thoughts, giving the film its spirituality and its profundity. This makes it a much more meditative experience which will sour those who need something bombastic to stay interested, I almost prefer the silence though, it lets you appreciate the characters through their body language and actions.
Like I said before, the film is a visual feast. In a summer full of special effects romps of aliens smashing buses and robots destroying sky scrapers, it was nice to see them used to recreate the natural beauty of the earth. The jungle, the volcanoes, space and all its astronomical wonders, it is truly, truly breathtaking. The rest of the scenes are beautifully captured to coincide with the emotion on screen so perfectly. I must say that the final scene is one of the most beautifully shot cinematic sequences of all time, it rivals "Tears In Rain" but doesn't surpass it. The music is matched to be as powerful as the film itself. Terrence Malick is quite the auteur he has a truly unique style of filmaking and his vision is so large and engrossing, it made me forget that I was watching it on a relatively small screen in a little art house in the city, it made me feel as if I was staring into the vision only the almighty could see. I don't think any film this year will be able to match The Tree of Life in its scope, its depth, or its beauty, it is truly a landmark of both cinema and artistic achievement.